Meet The Rice Jones MBA Class Of 2020

Yina Zhang  

Rice University, Jesse H Jones Graduate School of Business

Brave and very self-motivated financial analyst with a great sense of humor.”

Hometown: Beijing, China

Fun Fact About Yourself: I am one of the few female analysts who braved the depths of a working coal mine — 500 meters underground.

Undergraduate School and Major: University of Melbourne (Master’s degree in finance) and Renmin University of China (Bachelor’s degree in management)

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: China Chengxin International Credit Rating, Senior Manager/Senior Analyst

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: As a senior analyst in the biggest credit rating agency in China, I spearheaded over eighty credit rating projects and visited over 70 percent of the coal mining companies in China. However, my biggest accomplishment is not the mountain of rating reports I have delivered, but rather my work ethic. I don’t hesitate to go above-and-beyond to give my clients the financial guidance they need. In two cases, my solutions even helped my clients navigate the most difficult time in their lives. These rewarding moments have motivated me to pursue an MBA at Rice Business and possibly start a consulting career.

What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far, and why? The word kind comes to mind. All Rice MBA candidates joined a WhatsApp group, and every time a candidate reaches out for guidance, other classmates unhesitatingly step up to offer help and guidance. I feel so comfortable and blessed to be surrounded by such a warm-hearted group of people. The words of Dean Rodriguez exemplify this quality: “When you treat people right, good things always follow.”

Aside from your classmates, what was the key factor that led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA, and why was it so important to you? The key attribute that attracted me to this program is its strong direction in entrepreneurship and energy. This powerful feature will help me boost my industrialist spirit, develop an international view of the global energy market, gain insights into top-tier energy companies, and acquire skills in strategic management. Although I have considerable experience in the Chinese domestic energy market and finance sectors, this program will help me fill minor conceptual gaps. The guidance and mentoring provided by this program will help me establish a consulting company that provides services to energy companies in China.

What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school? I am looking forward to joining professional clubs like the Energy Club and Consulting Club, where I could network with classmates and professionals with the same interest. I also look forward to volunteering in the community, since I seldom had this opportunity in China.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? I received my epiphany 500 meters underground in one of the biggest coal mines in China. The year was 2015, and I wearily stood in the mine, encumbered with heavy flame-retardant overalls. I was sweaty and overwhelmed by the heavy humidity. In that moment, it dawned on me that I should help coal companies achieve a positive energy development model to improve the welfare and work environment of Chinese miners while focusing on sustainable practices. By integrating this goal with my continued passion to help my clients solve problems, I determined that starting a consulting company specializing in this area was the best way to realize this vision. To achieve my long-term goal, I intend to gain experience by spending at least five years working for a leading energy consulting firm in the U.S.

How did you decide if an MBA was worth the investment? If we put MBA as an investment, then the monetary benefits come in the form of salary bump upon graduation. Statistically, MBA graduates increase their yearly salary by over $25,000. Such increase in several years will cover the tuition fees. The non-monetary benefits such as a solid skill set, opportunities to explore different business world and so on can make this investment more appealing.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? Rice is the only program to which I applied.

How did you determine your fit at various schools? Ranking is the first factor I used to determine which type of school suited me best. Other factors included the class environment, culture, location, and program specialty. The most efficient way to explore a school’s culture is to visit MBA informational sessions and meet the staff and alumni in person. A school always allocates greater resources to its strongest direction, and if the direction fits my career goals, I should be on the right track.

What was your defining moment, and how did it shape who you are? I really do not have one defining moment. Rather, I believe the countless moments where I failed, succeeded, was disappointed, exited my comfort-zone, and pulled myself up shaped what I am today.

What do you plan to do after you graduate? After graduating with an MBA, I intend to spend at least five years working for one of the leading energy consulting firms in the U.S.

Where do you see yourself in five years? In five years, I see myself serving with an industry-leading energy consulting firm and gaining valuable experience as a consultant.

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